13th July 2012, Colombo: The Government of India signed an agreement with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to assist the reconstruction of 16,800 houses for conflict affected returnees in the Northern Province. At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Economic Development, UN-Habitat and three other Implementing Agencies (IAs) signed agreements for the reconstruction and repair of 43,000 houses in total.
The Indian Government will fully fund the reconstruction of houses, while technical guidance will be provided by UN-Habitat. Beneficiaries are to be selected through a transparent process based on a clearly defined and objective criteria.
The families themselves will be in charge of the reconstruction and repair of their houses, utilizing an Home Owner-Driven (HOD) methodology. Funds will be released directly by the High Commission of India into bank accounts of beneficiaries based on certification of progress of work by UN-Habitat’s technical teams.
UN-Habitat has thus far reached out to some 20,000 families thorough a HOD community based participatory process in post disaster reconstruction in Sri Lanka since 2005, and It is presently assisting the recovery of permanent shelter in the districts of Killinochchi, Mulaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar.
Minister of Economic Development, Hon. Basil Rajapakse, and the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Mr. Ashok K. Kantha presided over the signing ceremony. Mr. Anurag Srivastava, Counsellor (Political) signed the agreement on behalf of the Indian government and Mr. Lalith Lankatilleke, Senior Human Settlements Officer, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, signed on behalf of UN-Habitat.
This initiative is part of the overall commitment to build 50,000 houses announced by Honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh during the State visit of His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa to India in June 2010. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed on 18 January 2012 between the two governments on project implementation. The entire project is under full grant assistance of the Government of India valued approximately at US $ 270 million.